I laughed the day I picked up a magazine and saw an ad for my upcoming (since released) book, This Fine Life, between two other books. Across the top of the page were the words HISTORICAL FICTION. “Historical?” I said to no one. “The 60s?”
I hadn’t realized that writing in the era of the 1960s would be considered historical. Of course, I suppose, if I were only 20 to 30 years of age, it would make sense. But to me, the 60s seem to be no more than a decade ago. Couldn’t be? Could it?
I’ve been asked more than a few times why I chose to set the book in this particular era. I don’t really know that it was something I necessarily decided upon. I love that period. I can watch hours and hours of 60s sitcoms and movies. Plus, my favorite book of all time was set in the 60s. (Then again, it was written in 1968…)
There was an innocence the world still lived in during the late 50s and into the early 60s. At least until that fateful day in November 1963. And it was something I wanted to recapture. Those moments before the world turned upside down. Not perfect, mind you … but passionately innocent.
I was born in the late 50s and I knew I’d need to do a lot of research to write about adults living in this age. My greatest asset was my mother; she was a young bride in the middle to late 50s. I called her several times a day while working on the novel just to ask the simplest of questions. It was her answers that helped me to build the world of Mariette and Thayne as they set about playing house after their nuptials. When it came to clothes and hairstyles, I studied old Butterick, McCalls, and Simplicity patterns. I found advertisements from the 60s. I studied the details of every movie filmed and set in that time period I could get my hands on. I went to the library and online to obtain the fine details on music, clothing, slang words, and – most importantly – the news of the day. The little things that shaped Americans and their way of life.
I found myself wishing I could go back – if just for a day – to revisit some of the moments of my early childhood.
Initially the book, which is to date the most favorite thing I’ve ever written, ended in present time. Mariette and Thayne are now very old. Their children are grown and they have children of their own. As beautiful as the last chapter was (and it was!), my editor and I decided to leave Mariette and Thayne in the throes of young adulthood … having learned so much already and with still so much more to understand.